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Helping the UK’s Emergency Services Transition to an Electric Fleet

Can the emergency services in the UK transition to an ultra-low emission blue light fleet?

The UK’s emergency services share a strong focus on sustainability. There is an Emergency Services Environment and Sustainability Group (ESESG) which includes members from UK Police Forces, Fire & Rescue Services, Ambulance Services, and other emergency services. They meet to share best practice and discuss emerging technologies, government policy and legislation, and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.  

A key part of this is electrifying the fleets of emergency service vehicles. At present, there are relatively few emergency EVs on the roads. In October last year, there were around 430 EV police vehicles for example, and we are not yet seeing many EV ambulances and fire engines becoming generally available, making EV adoption more difficult. The operational demands on these vehicles are in a different league from other heavy-duty fleets, the situations they deal with are intense, and frankly, the risk of getting it wrong is too high to speculate 

Preparing the Emergency Services for an Electric Future 

That doesn’t mean that the emergency services are not preparing for the EV transition. Within every fire, police, and ambulance fleet, there are non-emergency vehicles that are being replaced with EVs. Several emergency service operators, including Northumbria Police, NTW Solutions, and London Ambulance Service, have chosen to work with Mer to prepare their charging infrastructure for a future that is electric.  

Electrifying a fleet of any type of vehicle calls for a change in the mindset of fleet managers; shifting focus away from the vehicles to how they are powered in preparation for the future. Establishing the charging infrastructure for today’s needs and when suitable EV versions of the high performance, specialist vehicles come onboard is high on the agenda for emergency services fleet managers.  

 Meeting a station’s charging requirements is not as straightforward as simply installing some charge points and plugging in as and when the vehicle is back at base. Power availability is a major challenge, and there may be a necessity to upgrade supply and bring in new connections – a complex, and potentially costly, process. Unfortunately, the UK’s local grid infrastructure wasn’t built with charging EV rapid response vehicles in mind.  

Getting Started with EV Charging for Blue Light Services 

As emergency fleet operators recognise that they cannot wait until they have made the transition to an all-electric fleet before getting their EV charging infrastructure in place, they have been preparing by electrifying their non-emergency vehicles to test the model.  

The charging infrastructure to support these vehicles paves the way for what is to come in the form of fully zero-emission emergency vehicles. The time is now to think about how, where and when the blue light fleet vehicles will be charged. Electrical site surveys are crucial to understand what power is available across estates today and if there are power constraints. 

Reflecting on how many charging depots are required and where they are in relation to a sub-station are important, and could lead to decisions about relocation and land-purchases. In some cases, combined emergency service hubs have been created to act as a centralised charging resource for emergency response vehicles. 

 Every fleet charging infrastructure will be unique, and every project calls for essential data to make informed decisions. Having the right information on EV charging now will mean evidence-based decisions can be made, and costly errors can be avoided. 

Expert Help Is on Hand from Mer’s Fleet Specialists 

The pressures on emergency services fleet managers are as intense as their vehicles. Rather than becoming experts in electrical infrastructure and having to worry about the infrastructure to charge their new vehicles as well as the switch from ICE to EV simultaneously, EV fleet specialists like Mer can remove that added burden and help fleet managers achieve their fleet electrification strategies. 

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